Amy Winehouse... where do I even begin?
We've all no doubt heard of the tragic passing of jazz/pop singer Amy Winehouse. Indeed, there is a lot of news going on lately, especially the unfathomable heartache that the poor people of Norway are currently going through. However, the news of Amy's death is still heartbreaking, regardless of the other headlines.
We all watched as she stumbled through Camden, year after year, tabloid cover after tabloid cover, in her (sometimes blood-stained) ballerina slippers, smeared eyeliner and wonky beehive, horrified and unable to look away at the same time. Her private life seemed like a horrid, drug-fueled circus.
We wondered why no one could help her, and now the cynical masses pass off the ending of her life as being "inevitable", "preventable" or a even a "choice". "How could anyone honestly be surprised that she died?" they ask on Twitter. As Russell Brand so poignantly said, "Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease ."
Pass her off as a junkie or just another talented 27-year-old who made some very, very bad decisions if you like - but Amy Winehouse was a fiercely and tragically talented young woman. I defy you to watch a live (sober) performance of hers, such as this rendition of "Love is a Losing Game" at SXSW and not get chills. Her voice was powerful, strong, steady, but unfortunately there was something within Amy that prevented her own personal strength matching that of her voice. We'll never know all of Amy's demons. We'll never know the extent of her addictions, her sadness, her fears, or why, as Brand described, she needed to "anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief."
Perhaps no one will ever know aside from likes of maybe Blake Fielder-Civil, whose name lived permanently inked over Amy's heart, or her father Mitch, who has enjoyed his own bit of fame off of the back of his daughter's obscure public image.
All I know, is that Amy Winehouse changed pop music. She made soul, jazz and the blues popular and profitable again. Would Duffy's scratchy voice be popular without Amy's "Rehab" climbing the charts? Would 21 be as loved in the States if Back to Black hadn't warmed up the crowd, first? What about black liquid eyeliner and beehives? (And would Pixie Lott even exist?)
She'll never make that sober come back we had all, perhaps naively, hoped for. Not another song, or another gravely, soulful note.
Preventable? Probably. Did she make some bad choices that she couldn't overcome? Yes. But it's still heartbreaking. It's still a loss for her family, her friends, for British music, and all of those who loved her, her music, and had hoped she'd sort herself out....
But she did warn all of us. She wasn't fucking around when she said she wouldn't go to rehab, and we sang along and danced without realizing how very serious she was.
Amy, you will be greatly, greatly missed.
Image via IVO GARCEV's Flickr